The tennis world is used to seeing most of the top men sail into the second week of nearly every grand slam event contested. That notion was shaken up in a big way Monday, as No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych lost in five sets to Frenchman Gael Monfils.
The Czech player was in the bottom half of the men's draw (Federer's section). He has six career wins over Federer, including two in grand slams, and his absence will help the 2009 French Open Champion's bid to reach his sixth final in Paris.
The only player that has beaten Federer in a slam that remains now in the bottom half of the section is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Swiss Maestro has won their last five meetings, however, including this year in Australia.
World No. 5 David Ferrer was the top seed in Berdych's section and is still the favorite to advance to the semifinals. Clay courts are his best surface and he did reach the semifinal round in last year's French Open as well.
As far as who Ferrer might face in the quarters, that is very much open now. Monfils made the semifinals in Paris in 2008, but there are a couple obstacles for him to get through.
He has a tough match in the next round against Ernest Gulbis, who has had a strong last couple of months. He won the title in Delray Beach and almost defeated Rafael Nadal on two separate occasions.
The top seed remaining in this section is Spaniard Nicolas Almagro at No. 11. He is no stranger to the clay courts, and came within a few points of advancing to the Australian Open semis in January.
Berdych would have been on a short list of possible contenders for this title, and his absence in the bottom half paves the way even further for Federer.
The 17-time grand slam champion has a combined record of 26-1 against Monfils, Ferrer and Almagro, which are his most likely opponents if he reaches the semis. Berdych, on the other hand, is 6-11 lifetime against Federer.
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